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Saturday, October 1, 2022

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UH awarded grant for circuit research


Research sssistant Milan Slavkovic shows the equipment used to conduct circuit research.  |  Bethel Glumac/The Daily Cougar

Research sssistant Milan Slavkovic shows the equipment used to conduct circuit research. | Bethel Glumac/The Daily Cougar

Grant money recently awarded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation will be used to develop a new way to connect transistors in integrated circuits — the heart of practically every electronic device.

Stanko Brankovic, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, was awarded this $80,000 grant.

“The tiniest and essential part of every chip represents a transistor,” Brankovic said. “It represents the basic part of any computational or computer based logic and calculation. The integrated circuit is the entire electronic package ensuring that chip is connected with solid state memory and other important parts of the circuitry, ensuring computing performance of the chip.”

The goal of the research is to advance these connections.

“The approach ensures that copper conductivity in these tiny lines is improved and overall device performance is improved,” Brankovic said.

“The way individual transistors are connected into a logical pattern performing some computational operation, typically addition, is through the interconnecting copper lines — which are in order of 20 to 40 nanometers in width. At this scale, performance of copper is compromised due to high resistivity related to a size dependent structure in copper interconnects,” Brankovic said.

The grant money will allow at least one doctoral candidate and one undergraduate student to participate in the research. The former will be supported with an experimental apparatus built to test the new approach.

Awarded $3 million in the last six years, Brankovic said donations of this size were uncommon especially because of the poor economy.

The grant has earned Brankovic esteem with his colleagues, said Badrinath Roysam, department chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“Brankovic is one of the star professors of the ECE department. He is highly regarded by his scientific peers, and his research on energy storage systems is of central importance to the University,” Roysam said.

If the proof of the concept of this research is achieved, Brankovic said the research could become more in-depth.

“A new, more extensive funding will be received to do research on more comprehensive and fundamental studies of copper conductivity in interconnecting lines,” Brankovic said.

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